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The Vertical Organization of Industry: Systems Competition versus Component Competition


  • Joseph Farrell
  • Hunter K. Monroe
  • Garth Saloner


We discuss two contrasting styles of vertical organization of complementary activities or components in an industry: systems competition versus component competition. When firms' competencies differ, systems competition is not a perfect substitute for component competition, even with Bertmnd behavior. Costs, prices, industry profits, and the distribution of those profits among firms all differ between the two styles of organization. Moreover, firms' profit incentives do not generally guide them towards the socially efficient form of vertical organization. In duopoly, there is a bias towards open organization (component competition), but with enough firms (three or more, in an exponential example) this bias is reversed. Copyright (c) 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • Joseph Farrell & Hunter K. Monroe & Garth Saloner, 1998. "The Vertical Organization of Industry: Systems Competition versus Component Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 143-182, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:7:y:1998:i:2:p:143-182

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Sang-Hyun & Choi, Jay Pil, 2015. "Optimal compatibility in systems markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 106-118.
    2. Ming-Chung Chang & Jin-Li Hu & Mei-Yu Lee, 2012. "Economic And Environmental Effects Of Refill Packs," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 581-592, October.
    3. Christoph Schlueter-Langdon, 2000. "Information Technology And The Vertical Organization Of Industry," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 174, Society for Computational Economics.
    4. Burgelman, Robert A., 2002. "Strategy as Vector and the Inertia of Co-evolutionary Lock-in," Research Papers 1745, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    5. Sieber, Sandra & Valor, Josep, 2002. "Market bundling strategies in the horizontal portal industry," IESE Research Papers D/480, IESE Business School.
    6. Zhou, Jidong, 2015. "Competitive Bundling," MPRA Paper 68358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Oz Shy, 2011. "A Short Survey of Network Economics," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 38(2), pages 119-149, March.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:734-:d:97388 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Nicolai J. Foss & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2003. "The resource-based tangle: towards a sustainable explanation of competitive advantage," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 291-307.
    10. Jong-Hee Hahn & Sang-Hyun Kim, 2012. "Mix-and-Match Compatibility in Asymmetric System Markets," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 168(2), pages 311-338, June.
    11. Kevin Boudreau, 2010. "Open Platform Strategies and Innovation: Granting Access vs. Devolving Control," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(10), pages 1849-1872, October.
    12. Burgelman, Robert A. & Grove, Andrew S., 2007. "Let Chaos Reign, Then Rein In Chaos--Repeatedly: Managing Strategic Dynamics For Corporate Longevity," Research Papers 1954, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    13. Acciaro, M. & Haralambides, H., 2008. "Product bundling in global ocean transportation," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2008-18, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
    14. Aija Elina Leiponen, 2008. "Competing Through Cooperation: The Organization of Standard Setting in Wireless Telecommunications," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(11), pages 1904-1919, November.
    15. Kim, Jeong-Yoo, 2002. "Product compatibility as a signal of quality in a market with network externalities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 949-964, September.
    16. Klimenko, Mikhail M., 2004. "Competition, matching, and geographical clustering at early stages of the industry life cycle," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 177-195.
    17. Fine, Charles H. & Whitney, Daniel E., 1996. "Is the make-buy decision process a core competence?," Working papers #140-96. Working paper (S, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    18. Luís M. B. Cabral & Miguel Villas-Boas, 2005. "Bertrand Supertraps," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(4), pages 599-613, April.
    19. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Giuri, Paola, 2001. "The long-term evolution of vertically-related industries," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(7), pages 1053-1083, July.
    20. Ashish Arora & Farasat Bokhari, 1996. "Returns to Specialization, Transaction Costs, and the Dynamics of Industry Evolution," Industrial Organization 9606002, EconWPA, revised 07 Jul 1998.
    21. Leiponen, Aija, 2006. "Competing through cooperation: Standard setting in wireless telecommunications," Discussion Papers 1056, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    22. Steven Globerman & Aidan Vining, 2004. "The Outsourcing Decision: A Strategic Framework," International Trade 0404007, EconWPA.
    23. Liao, Chun-Hsiung & Tauman, Yair, 2002. "The role of bundling in price competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 365-389, March.
    24. Mark Shanley & Margaret Peteraf, 2004. "Vertical group formation: A social process perspective," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6-7), pages 473-488.

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